Whilst walking through Wordsley earlier this week, I noticed a new Mad O’Rourke pub, specifically Mad O’Rourke’s Pie and Grill Factory. There used to be a chain of Mad O’Rourke establishments, and (in an earlier journey, similar the the Shepherd Neame passport recounted earlier) I once visited most of them collecting a set of coffee mugs. (A set of mugs seemed like a good excuse for a pub crawl spanning the Black Country and beyond, at least in those days.)
The pubs, then and now, were famous for serving a re-creation of the Cow Pies from Desperate Dan, huge things filled with steak, kidney and vegetables, with pastry horns projecting from the top. They also had quirky decor, such as the model carcasses hanging from the Ur-Factory in Tipton, or the bar made from an actual canal barge at the Little Dry Dock in Netherton. Foreshadowing the arrival of Wetherspoons, some of the pubs were sited in premises converted from other types of building. Different ones had different culinary themes, with the Cow Pie as the ever-present staple: sausages, chops, or fish for instance. I forget which was the fish one, but I recall it offering Black County Sushi which, unlike the effete portions served in lightweight places like Japan or London, consisted of huge thick slabs of raw fish…
In the middle of the trip around the Mad O’Rourke empire, I dreamed one night that the electricity substation opposite our flat in Wolverhampton had been converted to a Mad O’Rourke pub based on an electric eel theme. I wrote to Mr. Mad, telling him of the dream/business idea, and he replied with a strange rant about Anneka Rice, typed on a manual typewriter with a violet ribbon. And a free mug.
It’s good to see them back – full story of the resurrection here.